As our lives have become busier and schedules more hectic, the market has responded by making more prepared foods available. With the traditional family atmosphere now a part of history, there is often no one at home with the time or energy to spend hours cooking from scratch. When today’s families do eat at home, the meal is often assembled from a collection of different prepared foods that only need to be heated before eating.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the concept of prepared foods. Manufacturers should be applauded for meeting a need. However, prepared foods are often high in salt and fat. There is actually a reason for this. Most polls indicate that the number one factor affecting food choice for consumers is taste. Price comes in second, with healthiness trailing in third place. When prepared foods are labeled as "low-fat" or "low-sodium," many consumers interpret that as "less taste." When it comes to eating healthy, we are often our own worst enemy.
In terms of carbohydrates, there is really no reason why prepared foods should be much different than their more traditional counterparts. It is interesting to note that low-fat versions of some items (prepared salad dressings, for example) often tend to have higher carb counts than the regular variety. You will just have to be alert to nutritional content to catch little variances like these.
The only real challenge that low-carb dieters may face is that prepared foods may only offer limited variety. In other words, some of your favorite low-carb choices may not be available in prepared meals.
One bonus for both diabetics and dieters is that eating prepared foods could actually make logging nutritional content a little easier. When you prepare foods the "old-fashioned" way, you must keep track of the individual carb contents of each ingredient, then add everything up and divide by the number of servings. Not only is this process prone to error, people often just give up and guess. At least with prepared foods, the serving sizes are set and the carbohydrate grams are clearly printed on the label.
As with most of the items reviewed on this site, there is no reason why prepared foods must be banished from the table as long as they are served occasionally and with your eyes wide open with regard to the ingredient list.